Lucky 2013: 13 ways to connect with your children

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by PAIGE MCCOY SMITH

WFAA

Posted on January 4, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 2:51 PM

Let’s face it, the number 13 has a bad reputation. But in my opinion, these two decimals are as innocent as two black cats crossing a path seeking a bird rather than bewitching a bystander. In fact, I feel the number 13 can be quite lucky and useful.  

So, in that spirit, I am seeking 13 ways to make 2013 a great year!

As a parent I have compiled a list of 13 ways to connect (or reconnect) with your kids. Here are my ideas!
 
1.    Un-Plug and Plug-In
It starts with you Mom and Dad! You can’t expect your kids to turn off the TV, put down the phone, or stop typing until you are willing to do the same.   Schedule time for the entire family to be “unplugged” and get connected.
2.    Read a Book
As simple as it seems, reading with your kids is an ideal way to connect. Books can serve as that magic carpet that allows family members to hop on board for a shared adventure.   A book can also foster conversations about topics that extend beyond the family rut of “what’s for dinner” and “how’s it goin’?”
3.    Dig In At the Dinner Table
Ahhh – the dinner table. For me, it has always been a source of stress because I am not much of a cook. However, when I got past being Julia Child and instead, focused on my child, the pressure went away. Yes, the food is important – but I would assert that the conversation is as much, if not more important.   The key is asking your kids “open ended” questions.   There are conversation cards available and I highly encourage you to invest. It makes meal times meaningful.
4.    Pick a Project
Recently, my brother-in-law and nephew worked together on completing a shared goal – running a half-marathon. Now, I would rather have my finger nails removed more than running 13 miles, the fact is that they picked a project and bonded in the process.   Other options could be building a bird house, or learning to play the guitar. The point is this …when family members find a common goal, they define common ground, and share a common bond – one that cannot be easily broken.
5.    Mud Matters
Let’s get dirty!  Playing outside and enjoying a little nature is great for the earth – and the soul! Plant a garden, make some mud-pies, find a doodle bug, or simply lie on the grass and discover shapes in the clouds. Being outside is a great way to connect to each other and to nature.
6.    Roll the Dice
This may be the simplest way to connect. It’s literally “fun in a box” that someone else created for you. Break out the board games and make it a weekly tradition. They are also an inexpensive form of entertainment – much less than your standard video game. 
7.    Make a Date
Make a Date with your kids. Plan it in advance so everyone can look forward to it. Go bowling, spring for pizza, or, dare I say it, suck it up and chuckle through Chuck-E-Cheese. Remember, it’s the memories that will count – even more than the 1300 tickets it took for the plastic hand clappers that cost you $25 in tokens.
8.    Cook and Connect
The kitchen not only brings families together around the table – but can also bring relationships together around the stove. Have your kids involved in the meal planning AND preparation. Conversations, and taste buds, can expand with a little pot-stirring.
9.    Make a Music Video
Nothing can livin’ up a room more than music! So why not take it a step further and produce your own music video! Everyone can have an instrument… if you’re resourceful. Drums and sticks can be replaced with soup cans and spoons and canastas can be substituted for boxes of raw pasta. Be creative, have fun, and don’t forget press record! They may hate playing it back when their 14 – but, trust me, this recorded video will ultimately result in a platinum memory.
10.Take a Hike
Take a hike, or a bike ride, or a swim. Be active and have fun. Kids love to play! It’s up to us as adults to give them lots of options for play. They get lazy in front of the TV because WE are lazy. Make sure physical activity is part of your families’ weekly routine!
11.Create a Snuggle Spot
How easy is this! Define an area in your house reserved for snuggles! Kids need that physical affection and having a place where snuggles are shared is a great bonding experience.   Have special blankets for the kids and spend some time being close.
12.Declare a Water War!
I know it’s 30 degrees outside – but it won’t be for long. Texas is the PERFECT place for declaring Water Wars! Water guns, water balloons and even the simple water hose can make a normal day simply soaked with memories!
13.Blow some Bubbles
What is it about bubbles? Kids and grown-ups alike LOVE bubbles. Blow some bubbles and watch the magic. They are enchanting and the memories last long after the bubbles burst!

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